Volleyball and softball tryouts begin today for most local high school teams. The date set by the Georgia High School Association to allow organized practices has arrived, and the next three days will determine roster spots for varsity and junior varsity squads.
Many potential high school athletes have been training for this week all summer long. For the area's top volleyball talent, the place to be during the summer to prepare for the upcoming tryouts was at the CSRA Heat's summer volleyball clinics.
"That's the idea," CSRA Heat volleyball coach Ron Cupp said. "We want to give them a place where they could play. We're averaging about 22 or 23 each session."
While high school coaches are kept in check by the GHSA when it comes to practices and team workouts during the summer, there's no such rule for parent volunteers with volleyball experience. Cupp said the clinics are split into two sessions: one for middle school players, and the other for the high school athletes.
The clinics, which take place at Augusta Prep in Martinez, offer instruction and education in almost every facet of the sport.
The end result is a two- to three-hour practice each Tuesday and Sunday when potential volleyball stars can hone their skills, learn more complex strategy and positioning and even work on the fundamentals.
Cupp said as many as 50 girls have taken advantage of the semiweekly clinics this summer.
"We try to do a lot of different things. We went to a clinic in Atlanta that emphasized letting the kids have more repetitions during the drills," he said. "So we are doing some drills, but with emphasis on trying to get as many reps in as they can while still getting them smarter about the game.
"Each season we're trying to reach a wider market."
Now in its fifth year, the summer volleyball clinics complement what the girls already know about volleyball, but the program also fills a major void in Columbia County: There is no middle school volleyball program in the county's public school system.
"That's why this is a good way to introduce them to the sport," Cupp said, pointing to a group of middle school girls walking through a drill. "These girls have come a long way since they first started."
The clinic also offers instruction for the more refined volleyball talent. Sunday's workouts included athletes from every high school in Columbia County.
"I like it because it helps us prepare for the season, and you get to play with other people from other schools," said McKenzie Gray, a senior at Evans.
Cupp said the final volleyball clinic of the summer will take place Sunday at Augusta Prep.
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